FOURTY bodies have been recovered as the search continues for villagers trapped in their homes after a major landslide hit them at dawn yesterday, The National reports.
A bus and another vehicle with people on board were also believed to be trapped under the rubble.
Locals from Belopa village and officials from ExxonMobil continued searching yesterday.
They said it could take months to clear the area.
The landslide hit the village between 3am and 6am yesterday.
Tuguba-Bebogo landowner leader John Gana, whose garden and property were damaged by the landslide, said the disaster was the biggest witnessed in the area.
The villagers are blaming drilling activities in the area as the cause of the landslide which hit villagers from Belopa near the Tumbi quarry area, in Hides 4-Nogoli Junction.
Luke Andaya, Esso highlands community liaison officer who is at the village helping the families affected, said it was a natural landslide caused by forces of nature.
Andaya, who yesterday called The National from the scene of the landslide, said: “The exact number of people and homes buried is not yet known.
“We believe most of the people did not make it (escape) because it occurred early in the morning.”
He said soil moved by the landslide was about 50m high in some places and covered a 2km area in Belopa.
Enoch Beropo, the occupational health and environmental safety officer with Wagner Ltd, a sub-contractor with Esso Highlands, said 40 bodies had been pulled out while the search for others continued.